The outgoing government must shut down one of four coal-fired power plants this year. This is the opinion of D66, GroenLinks and PvdA. The parties say that otherwise the Netherlands would not be able to comply with the court’s Urgenda ruling, which obligates the country to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The judge ruled that the state has a duty to protect and improve the living environment of its citizens.
“The deal is a bargain,” said D66 MP Bucky. “We must obey the judge’s ruling. The Netherlands is a constitutional state,” he added. An expedited closure has financial consequences. The energy company you own is losing revenue and has to incur costs and must be compensated for it. Bock doesn’t want to say what it might cost.
GroenLinks also doesn’t want to mention the amount, but says shutting down a coal-fired power plant will save a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, at a relatively low cost compared to other measures. MP Van der Lee: “Another advantage is that you no longer have to subsidize the biomass co-combustion at that power plant. So this money is free.”
Dumb business risk
The energy companies themselves have calculated the cost of quickly shutting down their power plant. They say it amounts to billions of euros. For example, the power company RWE wants compensation of 1.4 billion euros because it has to close the coal-fired power plant in Eemshaven in 2030. The owner of the power plant Uniper in Maasvlakte is also demanding compensation for the closure in 2030.
The government is involved in various legal proceedings with these German-origin energy companies. Arbitration cases are pending and may take months. The Dutch state defends its position that the ban on burning coal is in line with national and international law.
Thijssen MP PvdA: “It was a stupid business risk for companies to continue with coal. They saw it coming. I don’t think they need much from Dutch society.”
The Ministry of Economic Affairs has made a financial offer for coal-fired power plants to shut down quickly. The Riverstone power plant, also on Maasvlakte, responded with a counter offer. Negotiations are still ongoing. The ministry says it wants to pay a maximum of 238 million euros.
The government can also look to legal action. Despite a fruitful discussion on the climate with outgoing Prime Minister Ruth or Het Turentje, director of Urgenda Minnesma wants to go to court again. According to her, the government does little. With a fine of perhaps 100 million to 2 billion euros, you want to force the Cabinet to take action.
“I understand that Minisma is taking this step,” van der Lee says. “The first ruling was issued in Urgenda six years ago and the ruling is still not enforced. By shutting down a power plant, we can prevent these sanctions.”
According to the three parties, other business of the people working in the factory should be found to close. Or they can retire early.